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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

2021 Oscar Predictions

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

This year's Oscars are unlike any that have happened before, and for good reason. It is a year filled to the brim with smaller, indie films as opposed to giant studio pictures. It's also one year where the Oscars got most of the nominations right, with pretty much every nomination deserving of their spot in each category as well as being a truly diverse group of nominees. Categories are filled with a vast range of different stories with unique perspectives and messages made by people of mixed backgrounds. It's a creative melting pot that accurately depicts the sheer variety that the medium has to offer the viewer. There is the odd noticeable snub, but for the most part it's pretty damn fantastic. It's a win for not only indie films, but for the crafts of storytelling and filmmaking as well. This year is also bound be yet another year of historic wins, let's hope the Academy (mostly) makes the right choices all over like they did in 2020.

There is an incredibly annoying and unfair feeling towards this year's ceremony though from the more commercially inclined voters and audiences. "tHiS yEaR's OsCaRs ArE sHiT. hAvEn'T hEaRd Or SeEn AnY oF tHeSe MoViEs ThErEfOrE tHeY'rE sHiT". Sure, films come down to subjective taste, with a lot of my pics here being personal preference, but you can't make an informed decision on each category if you can't take the time to watch each one of them, especially voters. Every year there is an alarming amount of anonymous voter ballots in publications who have insanely dumb and unfair hot takes in regards to their pics, boiling it down to "it's the only one I saw" to "she won two years ago so I am going to randomly give it to this person, even though I feel she isn't the deserving winner". This unfortunately paints a picture of largely uninformed academy members with close-minded taste and an apparent bitterness towards the craft with which they should be passionate about as well as making their decision based solely on merit alone. It's obviously justified if a nominee is an absolutely shitty, abusive person undeserving of praise, but when it comes down to uninformed and baseless opinions, then it's just unfair when you decide to vote elsewhere because you can't be bothered to watch the rest of the nominees in question.

So anyways, enough yapping on my part. Below is a list of who I think will win, who I think should win, who could realistically beat the top pick, and in some cases, who I think should've cracked a nomination. *NOTE* I have watched every film in every category with exception to Opera in the Best Animated Short Film Category, so I won't be picking who I think should win due to this.

*DOUBLE NOTE* I have provided some links to some of the shorts that are readily available online through YouTube and Vimeo.

Best Picture

The Nominees: The Father Judas and the Black Messiah Mank Minari Nomadland Promising Young Woman Sound of Metal The Trial of The Chicago 7

Who will win: Nomadland Who should win: Nomadland Who could win: The Trial of the Chicago 7

So Nomadland has been cleaning up shop in the best picture categories at every award show, it’s the clear favourite to win and it should. Although the most arthouse of the nominations in this category, it doesn’t seem to be deterring voters from the anonymous ballots that I have been seeing, including the frustrating ones. This is surprising considering it's arguably the most challenging in terms of tone, pace and visual style that is so quintessentially Chloé Zhao. It's the artiest and niche-st of the nominees which would normally not appeal to most viewers. But it has managed to do so, with it moving a large amount of voters with its realism in performances and the poetic look and feel that makes it a must see on the big screen.

What could potentially be the upset though, is The Trial of the Chicago 7. It’s arguably the weakest of the nominations, but Sorkin’s approach is far more accessible and entertaining to the average viewer. The academy also has a long history of loving films that re-enact important historical events. It’s an easier, light-hearted affair that isn’t nearly as challenging as the other films, and with its best ensemble performance win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAGs), it could be enough to push it over the line, considering the Actor's Branch in the academy is the biggest and has a huge say in who wins this category. Parasite last year won that award and ended up winning Best Picture, so it could fare well for Aaron Sorkin and his team.

Best Director

The Nominees: Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) David Fincher (Mank) Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)

Who will win: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) Who should win: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) Who could win: Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) Potential blindside spoiler: Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) Who should’ve been here: Darius Marder (Sound of Metal)

Again, Chloé Zhao has been cleaning up shop for best director at all the major awards leading up to this, including The Golden Globes, Director’s Guild Awards, BAFTAs and Thursday’s Independent Spirit Awards. She definitely deserves the award, with her natural talent in being able to create and capture moments of believable authenticity using mostly non-actors. Working with a tiny crew, Zhao is a master of improvising and adapting to the moment in largely unpredictable situations within the real world. This is an insanely difficult thing to do outside the safer, controlled environment of a set. It's a film of epic emotional and thematic proportions made more impressive with the very limited resources she had at her disposal. Go and watch Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider, where you can get a further understanding of her unbelievable craft as a filmmaker and her knack for getting outstanding performances out of non-actors. But, Sam Mendes won at all the above awards mentioned (except the Independent Spirit Awards) and ended up losing to Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite. So anything could happen.

What could potentially upset the balance though, is Emerald Fennell’s outstanding work for Promising Young Woman. Her very obvious talent in creating a visually exciting palette and being able to blend comedic undertones with a far darker, and sinister subject matter might sway voters who might not resonate with the more subtle approach someone like Chloé Zhao opts for. The academy tends to also spread the awards around over the past decade or so, usually splitting the directing and best film awards among them (except for last year of course). So this might be Fennel's chance to win if she doesn't bag the Best Original Screenplay Award, which she most certainly will.

Thomas Vinterberg could be the biggest spoiler though. His nomination was a surprise, but one that is completely justified and earned to those who are familiar with his work. Another Round is not just a darling on the festival and awards circuit, it’s also proving to be a popular film among academy members and people deep within the industry. This one is unlikely though, as Vinterberg will be the recipient of an Oscar when this wins Best International Feature.

One thing that is pretty much guaranteed though, is that this WILL be the year for a woman to win Best Director, and it will only be the second time for this to ever happen after Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to do so for 2008's The Hurt Locker.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) Frances McDormand (Nomadland) Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Who will win: Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) Who should win: Frances McDormand (Nomadland) Who could win: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

This is probably the hardest category to predict. It’s been spread across the board over the entire awards season. McDormand won at the BAFTAS, Davis won at the SAGs (the biggest indicator of who usually wins this award), Day at the Golden Globes, Mulligan at The Independent Spirit Awards and Kirby at the Venice Film Festival last year. For most years, this winner has been determined at the SAGs, with the tide turning on very few occasions (most notably Glenn Close eventually losing to outside bet Oliva Coleman in 2018). The academy might want to give this to a first time winner this year, leaving Carey Mulligan, Andra Day and Vanessa Kirby left. Despite Andra Day becoming the hot favourite after her win at The Golden Globes, it appears that the Mulligan has been picking up more chatter leading up to the vote as well as picking up the odd award at the smaller, but still important awards. It's a performance of furious urgency that has Mulligan at the top of her game that is worthy of the award. Respected by her peers and seemingly underrated, it could be the year the academy truly shows their respect for her.

McDormand's turn in Nomadland is my favourite performance of the nominees this year. It's a highly authentic and heartfelt centerpiece to a spiritually resonant piece of work. Her scene partners in 90% of the film are all non-actors, and considering she is an actress of considerable fame and talent, she never ever steals the thunder from each scene, allowing for her scene partners to be on the same playing field as her. This leads to moments that are undeniably touching in their honesty and their ability to resonate with the subjects and the viewer as well. This is no small feat as an actor and just shows why Frances McDormand is one of the greatest to ever do it. It also could be a chance for voters to continue making history for the night by making McDormand the second woman to reach three Best Actress Awards, leaving her one behind Katharine Hepburn's four. However, the likelihood of her picking up an Oscar for producing Nomadland might influence voters to send the award elsewhere, right into either Carey Mulligan or Viola Davis' hands.

Davis’ win at SAGs is the biggest factor in why she could win, with the actor’s branch having a big say in a lot of the awards. It's not as subtle and multi-layered as some of the other performances in this category, but it's still a great performance, with the Academy having a soft spot for historical figures being played as accurately to their likeness as possible. This is another factor why Andra Day could surprise once more, but The United States vs. Billie Holiday hasn't been met with the kindest of reviews, despite her incredibly committed performance, and this could be the basis for them deciding to award the statue to a performance from a better film.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) Anthony Hopkins (The Father) Gary Oldman (Mank) Steven Yeun (Minari)

Who will win: Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) Who should win: Anthony Hopkins (The Father) Who could win: Anthony Hopkins (The Father)/Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) Who should've been here: Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods).

Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is undeniably brilliant. A career best. It’s a role brimming with rage, sadness, charm and a depressing false sense of hope. It’s clearly a great performance that is catered for the stage, and like Viola Davis in the same film, there’s a lot less room for subtleties and nuances in the performance. Unfortunately, his untimely death stopped career that was starting blossoming into something truly great. Because of this, the academy will most likely award it to him to honour his legacy as an artist and a person, one that was just getting started.

Along with Riz Ahmed, Anthony Hopkins is the only one who I can see winning this award if Boseman doesn't, with Hopkins chances a little higher than Riz Ahmed as it stands. Hopkins plays an elderly man losing his mind to dementia in The Father. It’s a true masterclass of a performance, one which will arguably be regarded as the finest of his career. His surprise win at the BAFTAs and the fact that it’s Hopkins at the twilight of his great career, might push voters to reward him for the performance of a lifetime.

Riz Ahmed appeared to be out of the race, but his big win at the Independent Spirit Awards has gained him more momentum which could cause an upset that would be a deserved win. It was my favourite performance by a male actor in 2020, going above and beyond as a metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing. He learnt to play the drums, American Sign Language, and immersed himself in the Deaf community. It's a performance that doesn't pity the Deaf community, but embraces it, showing us that it's something that you can learn to live with as opposed to giving up. What’s even more impressive is that no rehearsals were done for the shoot, further showing just how instinctive and natural a talent Ahmed is.

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) Olivia Coleman (The Father) Amanda Seyfried (Mank) Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)

Who will win: Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari) Who should win: Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari) Who could win: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)/Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan)

It’s a lock for Youn this year as she has won every major award leading up to the Oscars. The People love a new discovery in someone who has been doing it for years, so this will definitely influence their vote. It also helps that she is outstanding in Minari, providing a performance that adds leverage and charm to the ensemble of Minari.

Amanda Seyfried (Mank) has an outside-outside chance of surprising the bunch, but the fact that Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) still hasn’t won an Oscar might persuade voters to give it to her this year for all the years she has been snubbed. But, due to this role also being nominated for worst supporting actress at the Razzies, might be a deciding factor in them looking elsewhere.

The major darkhorse of the lot is Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. She is the shining light in the film, a wildly talented actress who is deserving of all the attention and praise she continues to receive for the role. It's a challenging performance because she is not as well-versed in improvising in real-world scenarios like Sacha Baron Cohen, but she proves just how damn spectacular she is in dictating the mood for each situation, matching Cohen's improvisational humour with ease. Also, anyone who had to endure that scene with Rudy Giuliani deserves an Oscar. You gotta love an underdog.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami) Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Who will win: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) Who should win: Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) Who could win: Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)

This one is essentially a lock for Kaluuya, who puts in a career-best turn as Fred Hampton. Winning every major award on the road just like Yuh-Jung Youn for Minari. Rightfully so, as it is not only just a performance in trying to match the mannerisms and voice of Hampton but also adds different layers of humanity and complexity to the figure that elevates it to truly astonishing heights.

Paul Raci as Ruben’s councilor in Sound of Metal has rightfully been met with praise. It's a gut-punch of an emotional performance steeped in love and understanding for the Deaf community, proving to be the perfect scene partner for Riz Ahmed in trying to make sense of his situation. He is also the hearing son of Deaf parents who actually learned to speak English as a second language, so his experience as someone who is fluent in American Sign Language and how that world works proved to be massively beneficial to the film's authenticity (along with Deaf cast members). This could be a strong reason for voters in picking Raci, not only is he another veteran actor finally getting discovered late in his career (the academy loves these types of stories), but it could be another chance for the academy to pick a winner that would be a perfect highlight in important representation among the winners this year.

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah Minari Promising Young Woman Sound of Metal The Trial of the Chicago 7

Who will win: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell) Who should win: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell) Who could win: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)

Emerald Fennell is far and away the favourite to win this, with her recent Writer’s Guild and Independent Spirit Awards just propelling her even further to a win. It’s a relevant, exciting script that deserves the praise, as it puts a unique spin on a prickly subject that manages to balance humour, charm and confrontational rage all so perfectly. It’s timely and entirely necessary, refusing to let anyone off the hook as it puts a mirror up to society. Although Minari boasted my favourite script of the bunch, Fennell's script is arguably the most original in the category that is the most urgent and necessary right now.

What could change voters’ minds though is Aaron Sorkin. Like Tarantino, his obviously incomparable skill in writing dialogue could push undecided voters towards a safe choice. They might also love the fact that he has taken his trademark musical dialogue and placed it quite seamlessly in a historically important event, convincing them to go for this instead of the more challenging and more important work in Promising Young Woman.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan The Father Nomadland One Night in Miami The White Tiger Who will win: The Father (Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton) Who should win: The Father (Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton) Who could win: Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)

Who should've been here: i'm thinking of ending things (Charlie Kaufman)

I feel as though the deceptively simple script of The Father will finally receive its much deserved praise. Adapted from Florian Zeller’s play of the same name, The Father’s insanely complex and labyrinth-like structure is something that is so well thought out in every line of dialogue, every character and story beat, it’s non-linear approach and little nuances that could only ever be written on the page for it to be adapted and shown so clearly on the screen. I think the Academy will opt for this as they feel Chloé Zhao will most likely be dominating in other fields, so they may feel the urge to continue spreading the awards around. But if last year’s unexpected (but totally earned) dominance of Parasite is anything to go by, then we might be in for more surprises this year.

Zhoa is still considered the favourite for this category, with a script that is incredibly hard to adapt according to the situations happening that may alter and change instances in the script in real-time. This level of phenomenal improvisational fluidity could earn her the votes, but it could also influence voters into going for something with a more traditional structure.

Best International Feature

The Nominees: Another Round (Denmark) Better Days (Hong Kong) Collective (Romania) The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia) Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Who will win: Another Round (Denmark) Who should win: Another Round (Denmark) Who could win: Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Who should’ve been here (of the submitted films selected by each country): Beginning (Georgia), This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection (Lesotho)

This is a weird category. On one hand, you have three incredibly strong films in Another Round, Quo Vadis, Aid? and Collective. Then you have The Man Who Sold His Skin and Better Days which are extremely mediocre in comparison, and considering how many other great films were shortlisted, this makes it even more confusing as to how these snuck in. However, both films appear to check the boxes in what is relevant to voters so I can only imagine those being there for those reasons. Other than that, they’re not particularly impressive. The Man Who Sold His Skin is the poor man's The Square, nearly becoming a decent satire on art and the continuing humanitarian crisis in Syria, only to have it fumble around a needless love story that it can't seem to pry itself away from. Better Days is well, better, but it's also so heavy-handed in its approach to the effects of bullying, making it feel like an edgy after-school special with a budget and pretty people.

Anyways, back the other three. Another Round seems destined to win this category as it has dominated in the biggest awards leading up to this point. Winning at the BAFTAS, The European Academy Awards, and the Cesar Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars). It’s not only a critical darling but it’s a film of self-reflection, healing and eventually hope that has been a hit with audiences as well. If it weren't for the pandemic, this would probably have won Palm d'Or at Cannes where it was supposed to debut.

Quo Vadis, Aida? Is a much heavier affair, which follows a UN translator trying to save her family prior to the Srebrenica Massacre that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995. It’s an astonishing work of tension amid an impending tragedy. Any other year, this would’ve won, but seeing as the Pandemic was a downer for most people, the uplifting messages found in Another Round should prompt voters to give Thomas Vinterberg a deserved statue instead.

Best Documentary Feature

The Nominees: Collective Crip Camp The Mole Agent My Octopus Teacher Time

Who will win: My Octopus Teacher Who should win: Collective Who could win: Time/Collective Who should've been here: The Painter and the Thief, 76 Days

Another strange category as the odds were clearly in Collective’s favour prior to awards season, dominating in the European awards circuit, but it is now overwhelmingly in My Octopus Teacher’s favour. Voters will flock to My Octopus Teacher due to its touching subject matter, it being a worldwide sensation, easily available on Netflix and the fact that it captured behaviour previously unseen of an Octopus. These points will just convince them even further, making it the safe, go-to choice for them.

Time is a potential upset as it also has an uplifting journey through trying times, shining a light on the completely broken justice system in America. It’s a more compelling work with some of the most impressive editing of any film from 2020.

Collective’s vitally important approach to journalism and the importance of a transparent and trustworthy government is the bravest film of the bunch, exposing a completely rotten and corrupt healthcare system in Romania that put the filmmakers and all those involved in danger. Romania’s first Oscar nomination (surprisingly) is quite simply the bravest piece of filmmaking of all the categories nominated this year and it’s a complete disservice that it most likely won't be recognized for it on the biggest stage in film.

2020 had far too many great documentaries and it’s a crying shame The Painter and the Thief in particular wasn’t nominated. It follows an artist who decides to paint a portrait of the man who stole two of her most accomplished works. It’s a stunning work capturing the most unlikely of friendships that delves deep into the souls of both painter and thief - these lost souls finding each other when they both needed it most. I know this is down to subjective taste, but it was number 2 in my 100 favourite films of last year and it really bums me out how criminally overlooked it is. It's a masterpiece, plain and simple.

Best Animated Feature

The Nominees: Onward Over the Moon A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon Soul Wolfwalkers

Who will win: Soul Who should win: Soul Who could win: Wolfwalkers

Soul is the runaway favourite here and rightfully so. The incredibly deep and important messages found within creates a wholly unique piece of introspective filmmaking that continues to strengthen Pixar's reputation as being among the greatest storytellers out there. It also helps matters that it's a Pixar film, which is essentially a guarantee these days with the academy as they seem to think it's the only animation studio that exists.

Wolfwalkers on the other hand is the only other nominee capable of potentially upsetting the category. It’s a gorgeous film with an animation style that is unique to the filmmakers behind The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner. The themes and topics are also just as thoughtful and important as Soul's intentions, and with a story steeped in fantasy and folklore, it could prove to be the wildcard vote for academy members wanting to shake things up. If Wolfwalkers wins, it’ll be a very unexpected, but welcome win.

Best Production Design

The Nominees: The Father Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Mank News of the World Tenet

Who will win: Mank Who should win: The Father/Mank Who could win: Tenet

Who should've been here: i'm thinking of ending things

Mank’s elaborate, stunning and incredibly expensive sets throw us back into the golden age of 1930s Hollywood. They also had to recreate and build a replica of Hearst Castle, due to them being denied permission. These impressive scenes also have key elements that have been created for the sole purpose of inspiring certain elements in the Xanadu palace in Citizen Kane, the script with which the titular character is working on. It’s incredibly impressive and the level of sheer workmanship and art direction on display will be enough for the voters to make up their mind, regardless of how they feel about the film.

The Father is the one my heart really wants to win though. As impressive as the other nominations are in terms of obvious displays of construction and layout, The Father is far more subtle, with each scene being carefully orchestrated in a way that disorients you in the same way memory messes with Hopkin's character in the film. It plays with your mind in small details: couches change, layouts are rearranged, colour palettes change ever so slightly, etc. These changes are so subtle and carefully tinkered with, that you will only pick them up upon repeated viewings as you search the screen for them. It's not just random changes though, with each one of these alterations proving vital in character and plot. However, the level of subtlety and intelligence might fly over the average voter's head as they often go for the flashiest in terms of production design and how it boosts the overall production value of a film.

In my opinion, Tenet is the only other realistic challenger in defeating Mank. The final battle sequence of the film making its biggest case in why it could win, with production designers utilizing and constructing an abandoned city to serve as a playground for Nolan’s final mind-bending set piece as well as working with the VFX team in crashing an actual plane into a building.

Best Costume Design

The Nominees: Emma Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Mank Mulan Pinocchio

Who will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Who should win: Emma Who could win: Emma

This category seems all but done and dusted with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom appearing to win this category in all the other awards leading up to here.

Emma is the only other one to challenge for this, as there is more variety in costumes on display, with each design committing to various colour palettes and designs that amplify the characters and their emotions from scene to scene. It’s a heftier effort that deserves to take home the award.

Best Makeup and Styling

The Nominees: Emma Hillbilly Elegy Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Mank Pinocchio

Who will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Who should win: Pinocchio Who could win: Pinocchio

Anyone who has seen just five minutes-…hell, anyone who has even seen just the trailer will see why Pinocchio deserves this award by a long margin. The level of sophistication in being able to make the cast look like puppets all without CGI is quite unbelievable. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has brilliant hair and make-up but it actually boggles the mind that it is even considered to be better than the truly revolutionary work on Pinocchio. It has won everywhere on the road so maybe they know something I don't? If more people perhaps had the means to watch Pinocchio, a smaller Italian film, then maybe it would be a different story. Ma Rainey will take this one.

Best Cinematography

The Nominees: Sean Bobbitt (Judas and the Black Messiah) Erik Messerschmidt (Mank) Dariusz Wolski (News of the World) Joshua James Richard (Nomadland) Phedon Papamichael (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Who will win: Joshua James Richards (Nomadland) Who should win: Joshua James Richards (Nomadland) Who could win: Erik Messerschmidt (Mank)

Joshua James Richard’s cinematography in Nomadland is arguably the most visually striking and poetic of last year, managing to capture the raw emotion of both its subjects and the breathtaking landscape with very limited resources in order for him to do so. He also had to essentially double up as a production designer, figuring out the best way the surrounding environment could work in his favour of amplifying the film's key themes, ideas and topics found within each subject.

There is an outside chance that Sean Bobbitt could win for Judas and the Black Messiah, with him being able to make the film look and feel like a grand epic on a small budget. But I can only see Messerschmidt realistically beating Richards for the win, as he managed to recreate a specific kind of black and white photography reminiscent of films from the 30s. From his lighting setups to his compositions, Messerschmidt combined classic techniques of the era with more modern ones to deliver a film that is undeniably gorgeous to look at.

Best Editing

The Nominees: Yorgos Lamprinos (The Father) Chloé Zhoa (Nomadland) Frédéric Thoraval (Promising Young Woman) Mikkel E.G. Nielsen (Sound of Metal) Alan Baumgarten (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Who will win: Alan Baumgarten (The Trial of the Chicago 7) Who should win: Yorgos Lamprinos (The Father) Who could win: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen (Sound of Metal)

The academy voters never quite know how to award this category, and often go for the flashiest in terms of cutting and the stylish face-value of it all. The use of archival footage and us jumping between the riot and the court case will be enough for voters to pick The Trial of the Chicago 7, as it flows well and manages to blend all of Sorkin's Sorkinisms to good effect.

Sound of Metal was the favourite for this category for a while, but the tide seems to have shifted. Voters may see through the shininess of The Trial of the Chicago 7 and go for Sound of Metal’s raw, instinctive approach instead, as it manages to seamlessly blend image, sound and performance into one introspective piece that is an incredibly unique viewing experience that packs an emotional punch.

The Father’s ridiculously complex, labyrinth-like structure is brought to true life with the mindblowing editing found within, creating what seems like endless loops in certain scenes as the film manages to disorient you and make you feel as though you’re losing your mind the same way with which Hopkins’ character experiences. This would be my pick as it is the most complex and effective in its intent. Hopefully, the voters will see that as well and go for The Father or Sound of Metal over The Trial of the Chicago 7 instead.

Best Sound

The Nominees: Greyhound Mank News of the World Soul Sound of Metal

Who will win: Sound of Metal Who should win: Sound of Metal Who could win: Mank

Sound of Metal is a no-brainer here. Much like how The Father makes you feel like your mind is slipping, Sound of Metal makes the fear of going deaf a very real thing. It has some of the most unique and ingenious uses of sound in propelling the plot to places it needs to be, something you don’t hear often in films these days. It’s intentionally jarring, hopeful and subtle in its quietness and uncomfortably loud when it needs to be. It’s a wonderful example of a film also managing to convince you with sound alone that there is light at the end of the tunnel, using its expert design and mixing to emotional heights I have never quite felt before through sound in a film. It’s unlike any aural experience you’ll have watching a movie, and voters should pick Sound of Metal as the rightful winner.

Mank is also subtle in its approach, but doesn't drive the story and its themes quite like Sound of Metal does. If you are familiar with the talkies of the 30s and the way they specifically sound, then you will be able to appreciate just how good the sound to Mank really is, as they play with the subtleties in audio differences from equipment at the time as opposed to just going for the easy clicks and pops you'd often hear in films from then. It’s more stylish and nostalgic in intent than Sound of Metal’s overall mission, but it might be enough to push voters to pick Mank for the nostalgia of Hollywood's Golden Age alone.

Best Visual Effects

The Nominees: Love and Monsters The Midnight Sky Mulan The One and Only Ivan Tenet

Who will win: Tenet Who should win: Tenet Who could win: The Midnight Sky Who should've been here: Welcome to Chechnya

As polarizing as Tenet was among critics and audiences alike, there is no denying that it is as visually mindblowing as one would expect from a Nolan blockbuster. His films often feature mostly practical effects, with Tenet having that in spades. Thankfully academy voters historically tend to understand and appreciate practical effects over CGI effects, making Tenet a straightforward vote that has to win over Midnight Sky’s admittedly gorgeous visuals that still couldn't save the film from being a forgettable bore.

It would've been great to see the documentary Welcome to Chechnya grabbing a nomination, as it makes use of a revolutionary facial recognition software that allows for a bot to randomely construct faces, which was used in protecting the identities of LGBTQ+ individuals in the film fleeing for their lives from Chechnya.

Best Original Score

The Nominees: Terence Blanchard (Da 5 Bloods) Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Mank) Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Baptiste (Soul) Emile Mosseri (Minari) James Newton Howard (News of the World)

Who will win: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Baptiste (Soul) Who should win: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Mank) Who could win: Emile Mosseri (Minari)

This appears to be a slam-dunk for the duo of Reznor and Ross to take home their second Oscar after their first win for The Social Network, this time for their gorgeously light Soul with jazz compositions contributed by Jon Baptiste, who will pick the award up with them.

Mank on the other hand just confirms the ridiculous range the duo possess, surprising even themselves in the process. Both scores challenged them in new ways, but none more than Mank which pushed them to new heights, scoring the film to sound like the movies of the time as well as writing convincing original songs from popular genres of the era. Their work in Watchmen’s masterful sixth episode “This Extraordinary Being” allowed them to tap into the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zone, which they somehow bettered with Mank.

Emile Mosseri is an unlikely candidate in beating them, but his score for Minari manages to add an extra layer of warmth and charm to a film teeming with it already. It could happen, but it'll be hard to stop the trio behind Soul.

Best Original Song

The Nominees: Fight for You (Judas and the Black Messiah) Hear My Voice (The Trial of the Chicago 7) Husavik (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga) Lo Sì (Seen) (The Life Ahead)

Who will win: Speak Now (One Night in Miami) Who should win: Speak Now (One Night in Miami) Who could win: Lo Sì (Seen) (The Life Ahead)

Speak Now has been a regular fixture that has wowed audiences at the awards shows it has performed at, pushing it to the top of everyone’s list of songs they can most readily remember and identify with. It also helps that Leslie Odom Jr. is quickly becoming a household name and his talent as a performer and songwriter should allow for him to win comfortably in this category for One Night in Miami. Lo Sì (Seen) could be the surprise upset, with this being Diane Warren's 12th nomination without a win, which might influence voters in finally giving her the award that has alluded her for years.

Best Live-Action Short

The Nominees: Feeling Through The Letter Room The Present Two Distant Strangers White Eye

Who will win: Two Distant Strangers Who should win: Feeling Through Who could win: The Present

The relevance and emotional power of Two Distant Strangers will push it for the win. Personally, I think it would pretty unfair and unearned considering it’s totally a ripoff of a short film from 2016 called Groundhog Day for a Black Man. The only major difference here is a bigger budget with a longer run-time that is anything but subtle in its approach despite its good intentions and powerful message found within. In the hands of a more experienced filmmaker, it could've been something really special, but just comes across as seriously hammy. Either way, the heavy-handed approach, and its painfully obvious visual metaphors will be more than enough to convince voters in evoking an emotional response. The fact that it is also readily available on Netflix is a big factor, making it easier for voters to access.

I personally would love to see Feeling Through win. It’s about a homeless young man who finds himself trying to help a DeafBlind man get home. It’s a touching story of understanding and friendship told in a simple manner that is well performed and well-written, giving us a unique perspective and representation of a community that is so often neglected.

The Present is another short readily available on Netflix that might swing the vote. It follows a Palestinian man who goes into town with his daughter to collect a gift for his wife, but they come across issues of harassment while crossing an Israeli checkpoint. It’s a film also filled with deep and intriguing themes that make important observations of the situation in Palestine, but finds itself also getting a bit lost and a little clumsy in what it’s actually trying to convey and say; with a confusing opening few scenes that I still cannot figure out their place and meaning in the grand scheme of the film's timeline. The intense emotional response the film creates, as well as the setting of the story’s conflict, might sway the voters for a surprise win over Two Distant Strangers.

Best Animated Short

The Nominees: Burrow Genius Loci If Anything Happens I Love You Opera Yes-People

Who will win: If Anything Happens I Love You

Who could win: Opera

Literally can’t give an accurate opinion on this category because I have yet to see Opera, which I haven't been able to rent or get access to in any way possible. This sucks because it's the one I wanted to see the most. From what I have seen and read though, it seems to be a close race between Opera and If Anything Happens I Love You to take it. My favourite of the rest that I have seen is Genius Loci, it's hard to grasp (still trying to decrypt what it's actually about), but it is a gloriously abstract piece of animation that begs for rewatches with its heavy but smart approach to symbolism and surrealism.

Best Documentary Short

The Nominees: Colette A Concerto is a Conversation Do Not Split Hunger Ward A Love Song for Latasha

Who will win: A Love Song for Latisha Who should win: Do Not Split Who could win: Do Not Split

The devastating A Love Song for Latisha is the clear favourite here with its simple use of narration, archival footage and editing to deliver a heart breaking tribute to Latasha Harlins, who was shot and killed by a shop owner in 1991. It’s intimate and powerful, giving us deeply personal insights into her as a person instead of just being a statistic.

Do Not Split could find itself triumphant with the voters though, as it is a call to arms in resisting an oppressive force, namely the Chinese government. It follows the anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (anti-ELAB) movement in Hong Kong, including the siege on the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It’s Cinéma vérité at its finest, providing an exhilarating and frightening first-hand experience of being on the ground and in the thick of the protests, which soon became a fight against the police brutality implemented by the police force of Hong Kong and the Chinese government. It’s easily the most relevant of the films in its category, and arguably the most vital in the importance of fighting for your rights in the face of adversity, even if the cards are not stacked in your favour. The news that the Oscars will not stream in China mostly due to this and Chloé Zhao's disdain for the Chinese Government, certainly influenced academy members to give it a watch - which could possibly have them voting for Do Not Split due to the bravery on display as Hong Kong still fights to remain independent from China.

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